The leftovers today were sauteed trumpet mushrooms and uncooked haricot verts (the slender little green beans). The original plan was to toss them with buckwheat and caramelized onions until I realized that I ran out of buckwheat. I did find some polenta, and consulted my leftovers about this arrangement. They seemed to be pretty happy to go on top of polenta, but suggested adding some tomatoes and maybe even a little porcini stock to bring out the mushroom flavor. Luckily, I had some dried porcini mushrooms and couple of cans on Muir Glen tomatoes in my pantry. It sounded like a good plan, and I set to work stirring my pot of polenta and cooking the sauce. I wonder when KitchenAid or All-Clad will come out with a self-stirring pot. It would come in so handy. But polenta only takes about 30 minutes, so I can't complain too much. It must have seemed longer since I just got back from the gym and was starving.
Finally, the polenta got nice and thick, the beans got tender and it was time to eat. Yum! Those leftovers have some awesome ideas sometimes.
Polenta with Green Bean and Mushroom Ragu
All the mushrooms are optional. If you are not using dried porcini liquid, don't drain your tomatoes to end up with roughly the same amount of liquid.
For the sauce:
1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms (optional)
12 oz mushrooms of your choice, sliced or quartered (optional)
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
8 oz green beans, snapped, and cut into 1 inch lengths
28 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
2 Tbsp butter
Salt to taste
4 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 cup polenta
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan
To make the sauce:
- Put porcini in a little bowl and cover with 1 cup boiling water. Let sit 15-2o minutes while preparing the sauce.
- Set a large skillet oven high heat, add 1 Tbsp olive oil, fresh mushrooms, and a pinch of salt. Cover, turn down the heat to medium-low, and cook until tender, 5-7 minutes. Uncover, turn up the heat to medium-high, and cook stirring occasionally until golden brown, 5-7 minutes. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
- Add the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil, onion, and a pinch of salt to the skillet. Turn down the heat to medium-low and cook stirring occasionally until onion is translucent and starting to brown, 8-10 minutes.
- Add garlic and green beans and cook stirring for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Strain porcini liquid into a bowl through a strainer lined with paper towel to remove the sand. Add porcini liquid and tomatoes to the skillet with beans and bring to a simmer.
- Cover the skillet. How long to cook the sauce depends on how hungry you are. Ideally, turn down the heat to low and cook for 45-60 minutes. The goal is to get the green beans to be very tender. I know that mushiness is not normally a desired quality in the bean, but trust me on this one -- they are really good this way in tomato sauce. If you are as hungry as I was today, you might cut some corners, and crank up the heat to medium for 10 minutes and then medium-low for another 10. The beans won't get quiet as tender, but the sauce will thicken and be still very yummy in just 20 minutes.
- Right before serving, stir in the butter, add salt to taste, and take off heat.
- Bring 4 cups of water to a boil.
- Add polenta in a steady stream stirring constantly with a whisk.
- Cook for 30 minutes, stirring constantly. As polenta gets thick, switch to a wooden spoon. If you like yours on the thinner side, add water a few tablespoons at a time as polenta thickens.
- Stir in butter and 2 Tbsp parmesan.
- Divide between 4 bowls, top with the sauce, and sprinkle with remaining parmesan.